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Schools to get less money from state than budgeted

October 20, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Waynesboro Area School Board received added unfavorable financial information on Tuesday.

While the board budgeted $13.1 million in basic education subsidies from the state, it will only receive $12.9 million, Business Administrator Caroline Dean said.

The lower figure still represents a 4.4 percent increase in state funding from 2008-09, Dean said.

The board approved its 2009-10 budget months before the Pennsylvania General Assembly finished negotiating its allocations to the state's 500 school districts.

Board member Leland Lemley questioned how to make up the shortfall.

Dean said the only options are to make further spending cuts or dip into the district's fund balance, which is essentially its savings account. The board already used $660,800 from the fund balance to eliminate the deficit between projected revenue and expenditures this year.

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Dean told the board she anticipates it will have about $3.3 million in its fund balance at the end of the fiscal year.

Lemley said he's concerned the board will be starting the 2010-11 budget process at a disadvantage by using savings for recurring costs.

Also, the board will "certainly see no more local revenue and probably less" from earned income taxes, real estate transfers and property taxes, he said.

Board member Greg Ochoa attempted to cut off Lemley's questioning of Dean, saying it wasn't an agenda item. Board President K. Marilyn Smith said perhaps it would be better to wait until the next meeting, when Superintendent James Robertson, who had a family emergency Tuesday, would be in attendance.

Lemley continued to ask questions and make remarks about things like retirement payments, transportation contracts, teacher contracts, school renovations and electricity rate caps. Board members Chris Devers and Ochoa left the meeting.

"You're going on and on," Ochoa said to Lemley.

Lemley retorted that he was staying educated about the district's financial situation.

Dean said she soon will have more information about a performance contract, which is a method of making school improvements through projected savings from energy efficiency. Smith said the purchase of a PowerSchool student accounting system will be put on hold.

"I think this discussion has been helpful, Lee. I really do," Smith said to Lemley.

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